by Max Brantley
A note to Little Rock School Board members from the district attorney, Chris Heller, says he's proofing the planned court filing over the state's refusal to take any action to limit open enrollment charter schools in Pulaski County and hopes to file it today. The district will argue they contribute to segregation, contrary to the state's promise in settling the desegregation lawsuit years ago.
Board member Jody Carreiro objects to the action in an e-mail. Board member Mike Daugherty responds.
Here's the Little Rock School District's motion that the state is not in compliance with the 1989 settlement of the desegregation lawsuit.
Here's the brief in support of that motion.
I've sought comments from state officials, but I think it's safe to say they'll condemn the filing, the only question is how fiery the rhetoric.
UPDATE: Said a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel:
We had expected the filing since our good-faith efforts to reach a settlement have stalled. It's unfortunate that today's filing will prolong this matter in court.
We are confident the state will prevail on the merits.
EMAIL FROM CARREIRO
I don't know if we need board action on this, but I would like to see the lawsuit before it is filed. And maybe the whole board does not agree about that and if not, then we have voted and even though I don't agree, I will follow the majority. But, my concerns can be summed up in this: our attorneys are going off script from what we talked about and voted on. I will present two examples.
1. The document that was presented during negotiations invited further court intrusion not only into the state's management of charter schools but OUR management of magnet schools. That was not talked about and could hamper our ability to follow federal ESEA law.
2. The argument made to the state board about UCPC was different that what we had talked about at the board. I made a personal appeal for the state board to not grant the change in address based on what we had previously talked about (as a private citizen) and forwarded to several members and staff at the state. There were several good arguments to be made against allowing them to move and they were not made. I don't know if those arguments were his own or if you encouraged those arguments. Either way, they were poor, off base of what we had discussed, and in my opinion cast the deciding vote for letting them move. (Yes, I am a little upset)
The legal language and the lawsuit itself is the domain of the attorneys and I don't want to interfere with that. BUT, the vision belongs to the school board and I do not think we should hand our part of this job to the attorneys.
Therefore, I hope there are other board members that would join me in requesting that the board get to see the lawsuit before it is filed.
EMAIL FROM DAUGHERTY
With all due respect to you and to your position on this Jody, the board has voted and the attorneys were given some latitude on this. I personally don’t think this matter should be further debated nor do I feel I’d want to. I do think we are in a position to either trust our attorney’s recommendations or not. And if we can’t trust them maybe we should consider practicing law ourselves or as a group. As for myself. I think it is now up to the attorneys to draft and submit what their combined legal expertise suggests should be submitted and do so. I think it is about time we firmly stated our position and it should be consistent with that of our legal counsel.
Furthermore, it was evident your “good faith” appeal to the state board was met with almost jocular amusement. Unfortunately, that is how they treat all communications from this board so you shouldn’t be surprised. However, we have this one real opportunity to persuade them to work with us on this in good faith. And you may not like what we have to do but it is something we will have to do if the LRSD is to be able to operate independently as a fiscally sound and goal achieving school district.
Robert M. Daugherty